How much space is needed around the theremin?

Posted: 11/30/2020 5:09:45 AM
ephemere

Joined: 11/30/2020

Hello all,

I am considering trying out the theremin and just joined these forums. I read somewhere that it is recommended to have five feet of space all around the instrument. Unfortunately, space considerations preclude this, and the theremin will probably end up in somewhat cramped quarters.

How bad of a problem is this, in practice? Is it the kind of thing that only makes a difference to skilled players, or will it actually make it harder for me to learn?

Thanks.

Posted: 11/30/2020 5:53:29 AM
Flounderguts

Joined: 10/24/2020

I play mine with about 3 feet to sides, and less than a foot behind. 

It takes me a while to get it set up in those quarters, and when I go to a real space, I need a few visits or hours to tune the instrument to my liking. Having said that, it's not hard to adapt a little. Once it's set up, I tend to leave it in one place for weeks or months. 

Another strategy is to practice with a digital theremin in a small space, where you can set up the response to match your performance theremin. I find that very useful. It means you have to be very familiar with how your instruments work, and how to make them work to your advantage, but I think it's a big advantage for a player to have those skills. Sort of like setting up a guitar for different environments. 

However, antennas are often subject to a certain amount of interference...and that takes some experimentation. For instance, I have one very old theremin from the 60's that picks up the LFO from one of my synthesizer modules, so I cannot use them in proximity. And I once performed in a church next to a cell phone tower...that was frustrating...weird gleeps and boops when you least expected them. 

While there are several methodologies for playing theremin, there is no standard pedagogy. If the sound and style of play speaks to you, then get one and figure out how to make it work for you. This is an instrument of passion. 

I don't think it will affect your learning curve. So-called "classical" thereminists may disagree. I stick my tongue out in their general direction.

But NOT HAVING a theremin will affect your learning curve!

Oh, and Welcome to Theremin World!

Posted: 11/30/2020 7:25:17 PM
ephemere

Joined: 11/30/2020

Thank you for the response. It sounds like the tight space shouldn't stand in my way of trying. I've been curious about theremins for decades, but have never played one.

By "digital theremin" do you mean the Theremini?

Posted: 12/3/2020 3:18:16 AM
Flounderguts

Joined: 10/24/2020

Thank you for the response. It sounds like the tight space shouldn't stand in my way of trying. I've been curious about theremins for decades, but have never played one.By "digital theremin" do you mean the Theremini?

The theremini is digital, I think...I don't actually own one. There are plenty of digital theremins, though...probably the most popular is the the Open Theremin V3, which runs on an Arduino Uno. There is also the Burns Zep, the Glasgow Digital Theremin, and probably most importantly, the D-Lev FPGA theremin project by the forum's own Dewster! 
I'd guess that the Doepfer A-178 is another one that there are a lot of...but people who do not dabble in Eurorack have probably not heard of it. 

My guess is most of the theremin-like instruments out there are of the digital persuasion. One of my favorites is the Otamatone (I have the "Techno" version, and I love it to pieces!)

Posted: 12/3/2020 2:02:44 PM
DreadVox

From: The East of Netherlands

Joined: 6/18/2019

I have an Otamatone Deluxe coming my way. Ordered it a few days ago and it's in transit now.

Posted: 12/3/2020 3:16:46 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"The theremini is digital, I think...I don't actually own one." - flounderguts

Yes, the sound synth engine is entirely digital.  I believe the antenna signal is analog heterodyned with a DSP clock, and then processed digitally.

"There are plenty of digital theremins, though...probably the most popular is the the Open Theremin V3, which runs on an Arduino Uno."

Yes again, but the heterodyned signals are generated external to the processor.

"There is also the Burns Zep,"

This is almost certainly analog, using digital components in analog mode.

"the Glasgow Digital Theremin,"

Same, some digital components in analog mode.

"the D-Lev FPGA theremin"

More digital than any others out there that I'm aware of, even the antenna oscillators are largely digital.

"I'd guess that the Doepfer A-178 is another one that there are a lot of...but people who do not dabble in Eurorack have probably not heard of it."

From the pix on the web it looks analog to me.  It appears to have an LC oscillator, probably more like the volume loop on the Etherwave.

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